Log cabin warns GOP, Beware of marriage Politics

Laura Calvo

In article published in Politico Patrick Sammons, president of the Log Cabin Republicans, warns the GOP that marriage politics will not have the same effect on voters this election cycle as it did in 2004.

Acceptance of loving, committed gay and lesbian couples is on the rise and, consequently, the marriage debate does not have the same heat it used to. Republicans who try exploiting the issue for political gain this November will fail. And they’ll further alienate the young people who are already leaving the GOP in droves.

Hmm, ok so what else does the leader of Gay republicans have to say?

Unfortunately, prospects for House and Senate Republicans look bleak in November.

OK, no big surprise there, what else?

Republicans also spent much of 2006 debating divisive wedge issues such as a federal constitutional ban on marriage equality………………………

and

Making these wedge issues a prominent part of the GOP agenda made the party look out of touch with the priorities of average Americans. This disconnect with average voters cost Republicans the majority in Congress – pollsters agree Democrats won in 2006 because of independents (exit polls showed independents voting for Democrats by 57 percent to 39 percent).

But then he mentions the “S” word (Smith) and makes it sound like the Smith has a great record of supporting the fairness and freedom of gays & lesbians.

Interestingly enough, the two GOP U.S. senators targeted by Democrats, who should be in the most electoral danger given their constituency – Susan Collins of Maine and Gordon Smith of Oregon, are in the best position to win reelection in 2008. Not surprisingly, both Smith and Collins have strong records in favor of fairness and freedom for gay and lesbian Americans.

Whoa! I said whoa big fella! wait a minute. Smith does not have what I would call a strong record in regards to the fairness and freedom for gay and lesbian Americans.

In 2002, the Human Rights Campaign endorsed  Smith in his bid for the US Senate seat from Oregon.

In 2003, while the Oregon legislature was holding the first ever hearing on what is now the Oregon’s inclusive nondiscrimination law, Smith was silent.  As a US Senator and as someone with such a “strong” record why did he not come out in support of this law?

In 2004, Smith Supported Measure 36, which amended the Oregon Constitution to define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

In 2005, Smith was again strangely silent on supporting Oregon Senate Bill 1000, which would have created domestic partnerships and banned discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2006,Smith voted in favor of the Federal Marriage Amendment in the U.S. Senate.  But let’s not forget that his vote was just one of the 85% of votes he gives away, like a vending machine on tilt, to the  Bush Administration in deep and stark contrast to the wishes of the majority of Oregonians.

In 2007 the real record continues. There was still no vocal support nor any evident behind the scenes support for Domestic Partnerships and banning discrimination from Smith in 2007. The year that did finally bring us The Oregon Family Fairness Act and the Oregon Equality Act which we now have as law in Oregon. Those laws granted all the rights and privileges of marriage on a state level, banned discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodation, and expanded the hate crimes law to include gender identity. But absolutely nobody in Oregon or elsewhere can thank this sitting US Senator for supporting, or even lifting a finger to help these laws pass, let alone refer to this record as a strong supporter.

In background, all of these laws were recommended to the legislature as a part of the Democratic Party of Oregon platform, Basic Rights Oregon advocacy and leadership, and a Governors Task force comprised of business leaders, clergy, and citizens of Oregon. Not to mention the important role the Human Rights Campaign played in support of these laws.

Smith also supported an extremist Judge Leslie Southwick:

Southwick agreed with the decision to remove an 8-year-old girl from her birth mother largely because she was living with another woman in a lesbian home. Southwick joined the opinion that sexual orientation is a choice.

To say the least, Gordon Smith does not have a strong record of supporting fairness and freedom for gay and lesbians. He actually voted and acted in betrayal of the Human Rights Campaign endorsement received in 2002. Interestingly enough he wooed and courted the HRC when he was running for election, then went back to his true colors. A deeply red shade of conservative millionaire republican politician, relieved to not have to pander excessively any further until 2008.

Meanwhile, in very sharp contrast, Oregonians do have a U.S. Senate candidate who actually has the credentials to say he does have more than a strong record of supporting true equality and fairness for all LGBT  people and their families.  That is Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Jeff Merkley.

In 2005 while Smith was busy being silent on the issues, then Republican Speaker of the House Karen Minnis used some arcane procedural tactics to scuttle the hopes for Domestic Partnerships and an anti discrimination law.  Jeff Merkely, House minority leader in 2005, fought visibly tooth and nail against Minnis’ mean spirited 11th hour  scuttle of  the bill. He along with other progressive Democrats vowed to take back the Oregon House and to make the Oregon Family Fairness Act and the Oregon Equality Act a top priority.

Jeff Merkely was actively in the lead in the Oregon House, pulling together the votes needed to pass these historic pieces of legislation and doing so in the face of fierce opposition.

Mr. Sammons,  thats I would call a “Strong Record of in favor of fairness and freedom for gay and lesbian Americans”.

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